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Brahms: Piano Concertos, Nos. 1 & 2

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Audio CD, May 9, 2006
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Brahms: Piano Concertos, Nos. 1 & 2 + Beethoven: Piano Concerto No.5 - 'Emperor'
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Product Details

  • Performer: Nelson Freire
  • Orchestra: Gewandhaus Orchestra Leipzig
  • Conductor: Riccardo Chailly
  • Composer: Johannes Brahms
  • Audio CD (May 9, 2006)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: Decca
  • ASIN: B000E6TYI4
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #132,706 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

88 of 99 people found the following review helpful By Joris Verhelst on May 27, 2006
Format: Audio CD
There are so many recordings of these two giants of piano concertos. Both works of epic stature need both an excellent soloist and orchestra. These works of symphonic strength need an orchestra that is not just an accompanying partner for the soloist who needs for his part intelligence, power, balance, sensitivity and poetry(!)in order to tackle the ongoing massive orchestral flow.

Among the great recordings of these piano concertos rank certainly Leon Fleisher and George Szell on Sony (a violent and passionate orchestra - need one say more with a monument as Szell and his beloved Cleveland Orchestra? - and a poetic pianist as Fleisher who marvelled and sculpted these works from his childhood on), Emil Gilels and Eugen Jochum on Deutsche Grammophon (a true classic interpretation, balanced, mature, but for me just a little not passionate enough, anyway Jochum recalls this recording a year before his death as one of the special moments of his entire career), and last but not least Hélène Grimaud and Kurt Sanderling on Erato, as for the piano orchestra no.1 (a volatile and passionate brahmsian fury, a reading of genuine romance, sturm und drang, power and insight). The latter version became recently my personal beloved one for the ongoing pulse and heartbeat of miss Grimaud, not just a pianist, but a musician.

But now Decca surprises us with an ardent live version of these works with the legendary Brasilian Nelson Freire and the even more legendary 250 year old central european Gewandhaus Orchestra of Leipzig (Mendelsohn was one of its first Kapellmeisters!) under the baton of its new conductor Riccardo Chailly: an invaluable coupling.

Chailly has proven himself as one of the utmost exciting conductors of the last fifteen years in the entire world, (e.g.
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28 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Hubert S. Mickel on July 4, 2007
Format: Audio CD
I did not buy these recordings; they were given to me by Professor Andreas Schulz, Gewandhausdirektor. I had expressed to him my longstanding enthusiasm for the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra as well as my thoughts that the new conductor, Riccardo Chailly, along with Martha Argerich, had interpreted Schumann extremely well. The two CDs of these recordings, along with a few others, were sent by him to the Leipzig Marriott, where I was staying.

What a gift! I had not known Nelson Freire previously. I quickly became acquainted with him through a google search and acquiring CDs of performances of him playing Schumann and Chopin. He is an extremely sensitive and intuitive performer with as good a technique as any living pianist. Riccardo Chailly came to Leipzig after being the conductor of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam, an orchestra that he had honed into the clearly world-class orchestra that it is. (I consider the Leipzig Gewandhaus, the Dresden Staatskapelle, and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra to be the three best orchestras in the world.) The end result of this combination of the pianist and the conductor are these two superlative recordings by the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra.

The First Piano Concerto is played with all of the struggle, the masculine sinewy sound of conflict that you hear other pianists portray. However, Nelson Freire also finds the poetry that resides in this music. The first piano concerto was written by Brahms shortly after his enthusiastic reception by Robert Schumann. A short time later, in a fit of depression, Schumann jumped off the bridge spanning the Rhine near his home in Dusseldorf. After he was taken from the water by fishermen, he was sent to an asylum in Endenich bei Bonn, where he died two years later.
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28 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Jake H. -- Chicago on December 7, 2010
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
These are strong performances, but I'm at a loss to understand the lavish praise. *Everyone* seems to not just like them, but love them. I don't get it! Perhaps some fellow Amazon denizens can set me straight.

These monumental works are exciting and beautiful and hold a special place in my heart. This recording has exciting and beautiful moments (mostly in the third movement of 1), but, given the extensive competition, not enough to justify its seemingly universal acclaim as the new benchmark. I don't hear what's so revelatory here. I've tried. Several times. Each time, I just want to listen to a different recording, whereupon I'm able to lose myself once again in these dramatic and heartbreaking pieces of music.

Some of my dissatisfaction is due to the recording, which most seem to regard as impeccable. Though I'm not a crazy audiophile, I have pretty good equipment -- stuff you can't get at Best Buy -- and, to my ear, the recording is boomy and muddled -- not crisp and clear -- with the orchestra often sounding muffled compared to the piano, especially in 2. Pop in remastered recordings from distant history (Fleischer/Szell, Richter/Leinsdorf for 2), and, wow, you can actually make out the strings and the timpani and everything else without it all sinking into bass-heavy and/or ringy noise. With those ancient recordings, it actually sounds like you're there. Ironically, with these live modern recordings, it sounds like I'm listening over the concert hall's P.A. system in the lobby because I got there late.

Another complaint is Mr. Freire's playing, which, to my ear, falls a bit short along many dimensions. I'm a stickler for technical mastery and precision.
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